Glossary

Abacus

Known as a soroban in Japan, an early calculating tool using beads on a frame.

Assimilation

Conversion to/acceptance of the dominant culture and often loss of birth culture.

Bon or Obon

Traditional summer festival with outdoor dances and street festivals to honor ancestors.

Buddhism

A religion of eastern and central Asia that is based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha.

Emigration

To leave a country or region to live elsewhere.

Geisha

Professional women trained in various performing arts: dance, singing, playing musical instruments.

Go

A territorial strategy board game using analytical skill.

Gosei

The generation of people born to at least one Yonsei parent.

Hanamatsuri

Buddhist Flower Festival to celebrate birth of Prince Siddhartha, founder of the Buddhist religion.

Hapa

Hawaiian word refers to children of mixed ethnicity; including Japanese and other races.

Hina Matsuri

Festival of Dolls takes place on March 3 where wishes for future happiness for girls are expressed (also known as Girls’ Day or Girls’ Day Festival).

Hoonko

Buddhist memorial service to honor founder of Buddhist sect Jodo Shinshu.

Idosha

Forced resettlement of Japanese Canadians during World War II, away from the west coast.

Ikebana

Japanese flower arrangements which values the empty space or minimalism in the arrangement.

Ikenobo

The oldest school of Ikebana, developed by a Buddhist monk in Kyoto in the 15th Century.

Immigrant

A person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.

Immigration

To come into a country of which one is not a native for permanent residence.

Issei

First generation of Japanese who immigrated; the generation born in Japan who later emigrated to another country.

Japanese cuisine or Washoku

Social practice and skills in preparing and consuming food being mindful of the sustainability of natural resources.

Japanese New Year

January 1, start of a month-long celebration, sets the tone for the next year.

Judo

"The gentle way"; a popular defensive martial art style growing out of jujutsu.

Kabuki

A traditional Japanese art form in the theater.

Kana

Syllabic Japanese scripts where each character responds to a certain sound in Japanese language.

Kanji

Chinese characters known in Japan as Kanji.

Karuta

Japanese card game involving two types of cards: “grabbing” cards and “reading” cards. The objective is to grab the correct cards as clues or hints as revealed by the reading cards. The player who has grabbed the most cards wins.

Kimono

T-shaped, straight-lined traditional robe, means “thing to wear”; worn wrapped about the body and held with an “obi” or sash that is tied in the back, usually worn with traditional footwear and split-toe socks.

Mai

Traditional Japanese dance influenced by Noh drama.

Meiji era

Transition period when Japanese society modernized from an isolated feudal society, 1868-1912.

Nikkei

Person of Japanese descent.

Nisei

Second generation; the generation born in any country outside of Japan to at least one Issei or one non-immigrant Japanese parent; children born in Canada to the Issei.

Noh

A form of traditional Japanese theatre involving song and dance performed in a slow, standardized manner.

Obon

Buddhist Festival of Souls to honor ancestors and remember the deceased, important family reunion time.

Odori

Folk dance included in festivals and commemorating ancestors, using graceful, synchronized movements.

Origami

Traditional art of paper folding, from very simple to extremely complex, often without any cutting.

Sansei

Third generation; the generation of people born to at least one Nisei parent.

Shibai

Dramatic performance.

Shin-Issei

Postwar Japanese immigrants, the prefix shin meaning "new".

Sho or Shodo

Artistic writing; drawing characters with a brush to express spiritual depth and beauty.

Shogi

The Japanese cousin of Chess, played with two players.

Sumi

Inkstick, solid black ink found in a suzuri used in calligraphy.

Suzuri

Heavy black inkstone holding a solid ink.

Tango no Sekku

Boys’ Festival held on May 5th hopes that sons will be healthy and strong; celebrates courage and determination. After the Second World War, May 5th was set aside as Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi (now a national holiday in Japan).

Yonsei

Fourth generation; the generation of people born to at least one Sansei parent.

Zen Buddhism

Focuses on attaining enlightenment through meditation, mental and spiritual discipline.